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Spiritual Backgrounds


This Background provides Ambrosia to beings with Spheres. See Exalted.Spirit Charms for a detailed discussion of its other benefits. Consult the chart below, subtracting 2 from the Background's rating. (Cult 3 provides the same amount of Ambrosia as Salary 1.)


This Background provides Ambrosia to beings with Spheres. See Sidereals for a detailed discussion of its other benefits. Consult the chart below.

If a spirit has both Cult and Salary, add them together and subtract 2 to determine the Ambrosia benefit they confer.

LevelAmbrosia Output
1 coin per lunar month
••3 coins per lunar month
•••5 coins per lunar month
••••10 coins per lunar month
•••••20 coins per lunar month
••••• •as 5. in addition, roll highest Virtue once a week and recieve a coin upon success.
••••• ••as 5. in addition, roll highest Virtue once a week and recieve a coin per success, with mortal dice.
••••• •••as 5. in addition, roll highest Virtue once a week and recieve a coin per success, with heroic dice.


While the Exalted forge masterpieces out of the Five Magical Materials or crystallise their own Essences into luminous relics, spirits prefer to awaken the divinity in mundane things. They express their natures in the way that they use these items, so much so that the things a spirit can elevate to miraculous status becomes a part of their image and identity. These things are Icons.

Creating Icons

To acquire an Icon, a spirit must choose an item to be its template. In a ritualistic manner, the god makes this template a part of its spiritual anatomy. The ritual varies from spirit to spirit; to subsume a staff, a forest god might need to plant saplings around it and cause them to grow together, enclosing it; a war god may need to consecrate a sword with the blood of one hundred foes. An elemental of water may simply need to drown a mortal who is carrying the item in question. Once the spirit and the template are bound in this manner, the template becomes an Artifact, with properties that reflect the spirit's nature. The spirit has no control over these, but the ST and player should confer over them. Often, the abilities it expresses extend or reinterpret the spirit's Spheres.

Using Icons

Unlike a normal Artifact, a spirit does not need to constantly carry its Icon, and can maintain a special kind of attunement with it for 0 motes. This attunement requires the normal sort of maintenance, but it does not allow the spirit to use any of the item's magical abilities. Rather, this attunement allows it to impose the Icon's magical abilities onto any item of an appropriate category, by taking up that item and infusing it with energy. Mechanically, this infusion works the same way as attuning an Artifact would; add the item's attunement cost (if any) to the cost to attune the Icon. This effectively stacks the Icon's abilities and unusual properties (such as the elevated equipment bonuses of Artifact weaponry) onto the infused item.

Depending on the spirit, infusing an item will change its appearance to a varying degree. Some spirits always manifest their Icons with the same appearance, disregarding the underlying object completely. Other spirits combine the underlying object and their Icon; this is a common approach for gods with very broad geographical influences, as it allows them to assume the cultural look of a region while maintaining a certain constancy among their accoutrements. It is not normally possible to infuse an item without changing its appearance in an obvious manner, however. It will always be clear that the item is being used as an extension of the god's spirit.

If the spirit loses his 0-mote attunement with his Icon, he is no longer able to infuse other items with the Icon's properties. Beings other than the original spirit creator are not normally able to infuse the abilities of stolen Icons into other objects, but they can attune to and use the template item normally.

Icons and the Exalted

Exalted are not able to produce their own Icons, unless they somehow acquire Spheres. All beings with Spheres intuitively know and understand the rituals they can perform in order to create an Icon.

Artifact Ratings of Icons

An Icon's template is some item, not of the Five Magical Materials, that has the properties appropriate to an Artifact of that level. Its abilities can be expressed in items of a varying number of categories, depending on its level; the increasing breadth of Icon at the higher levels reflects the broadening of influence that stronger spirits enjoy. The examples in this table indicate categories that could be associated with Hu Dai Liang's Spear of the Crimson Banner (E:Sidereals) at that level.

Artifact LevelDescriptionCategories
A simple Icon, it can be expressed in one narrow category of objects.Spears.
••A significant Icon, it can be be expressed in one simple category of objects.Hafted Weaponry.
•••A strong Icon, it can be expressed in two distinctly narrow categories of objects, or one simple category.Spears and Banners, or Hafted Weaponry.
••••A mighty Icon, it can be expressed in two simple categories of objects.Flags and Hafted Weaponry.
•••••An everpresent Icon, it can be expressed in three simple categories of objects.Flags, Hafted Weaponry, Stabbing Weaponry.


The general properties of sancta are described in Games of Divinity p.16.

Creating Sancta

All gods with Essence 5 or greater are automatically able to generate a sanctum. This does not require investment of dots in the Sanctum Background. To do so, the spirit must locate an appropriate threshold and perform a ritual; as with Icons, spirits intuitively know what sort of rituals they must perform to generate a sanctum. This creates a sanctum with a Background rating of 0.

Elementals, demons, and spirits with lesser Essence are also able to create sancta, but they must invect Background dots; they cannot automatically generate a 0-rating sanctum.

The sancta of more powerful spirits are generally more well-appointed and mystical, while the sancta of terrestrial gods and those unusual elementals and demons who have developed the ability to create a sanctum are more workmanlike.

Benefits of a Sanctum

Having a sanctum allows the spirit to have a mystical refuge, where he can work large magics. A Sanctum has its own Essence pool that its owner can draw on; this is calculated the same way as a spirit's Essence pool, using the owner's Virtues and Willpower, and the sanctum's Background rating in the place of Essence.

More specifically, it is this equation:

Sanctum × 10 + Willpower × 3 + (Sum of Virtues) × 2

This is, effectively, an Essence pool that the owner can only add motes to or take motes from while he is inside the sanctum. Anything to which he has committed Essence to using the sanctum pool likewise has to stay within the sanctum; removing the item instantly causes the commitment to cease. This means that the spirit can't commit to Charms and then maintain them outside the sanctum, but he is able to attune to Artifacts and leave them inside the sanctum.

A sanctum that is placed on a Demesne affords the spirit the Demesne's Essence regeneration benefit as well.

Life in the Sanctum

Depending on how mighty a spirit is and how closely connected he is to his sanctum, he has varying amounts of control over it. Particularly energetic spirits, or those whose sancta are situated on Demesnes, are able to transform the interior of their sancta with shaping actions.

As a general rule, spiritual shaping revolves around the Spheres of the shaper; they can only shape using Auspicious Abilities. A spirit's sanctum-shaping action is independent from his mundane actions.

The environment inside the Sanctum, and the spirit's control over it, are summarised in the table below:

Sanctum + DemesneEnvironmentShaping
0- (for gods, cavelike; primitive)-
1Cramped, spare1 per day, 1 Ability
2Poor1 per day, both Abilities of 1 Sphere
3Comfortable1 per day, 1 Sphere + 1 Ability
4Well-Appointed1 per day, 2 Spheres
5Mansion-like1 per hour, 2 Spheres + 1 Ability
6Cathedral1 per hour, 3 Spheres
7Rich1 per hour, 3 Spheres + 1 Ability
8Palatial1 per minute, 4 Spheres
9Flamboyant1 per minute, 4 Spheres + 1 Ability
10Fabulously incredible1 per turn, all Spheres

Gods add their Essence minus 5 to their Sanctum rating in order to determine their shaping ability. If this causes their Sanctum + Demesne total to exceed 10, then they are able to shape with shocking speed; subtract 9 from this total. The spirit ignores multiple-action penalties for this many shaping actions each turn.

Example: Venus has Essence 8. She is in the Perfect Lotus of Destiny, a level 5 Demesne and her level 5 Sanctum. This means that her Essence + Sanctum + Demesne - 5 = 13; she can take three shaping actions in a turn with no multiple-action penalties. If she takes four shaping actions, the fourth action has a -7 multiple-action penalty.

Sanctum & Yu-Shan

Celestial gods and elemental dragons are able to take a special version of Sanctum, Celestial Sanctum. This grants them a Manse of the same rating in Yu-Shan, and allows them to treat all of Yu-Shan as a Sanctum of that rating, as well as a level 5 Demesne for the purposes of determining shaping ability.